The Wildthingz story started in 1966 in Beitbridge, Southern Rhodesia. Political instability in the region had led to fighting, and in one particular case, a nearby firefight had set fire to the bush. A game ranger named, Don Stot, rescued a casualty of the war – a week-old lion cub that had been caught in the fire and lost its mother. Don took the Lion cub to Ossie and Joyce Bristow at Bishopstone Estate, who hand-reared the cub to adulthood, unwittingly setting their lives on a path of playing foster parents to an array of other orphaned animals from that day forward.
After leaving Bishopstone Estate, Ossie and Joyce moved to Le Rhone where they were joined by their son, Viv and his wife, Carol. Towards the end of the Rhodesian Bush War, Ossie and Joyce relocated to a little farm just outside Salisbury, in Harare. There they established the Lion and Cheetah Park, which became a popular destination to visit by locals and foreigners alike to learn about all our animals. In 2001, Viv and Carol were forced to leave Zimbabwe and relocated to the Ranch Conservancy in Polokwane. With them, they brought some of the lions from the Lion and Cheetah Park in Zimbabwe, where, in conjunction with the Ranch Resorts Tom Shearer, they founded the Ranch Lions Project.
In 2016, it was decided to bring some of the progeny of our original lions across the road to Wildthingz Lodge (still within the same conservancy) to continue the education through interaction project, a project that was set up for the public to appreciate the beauty of semi-free-ranging lions to enhance wildlife conservation through knowledge and first-hand experience.
In 2017, Kierin; Viv and Carol’s grandson and his Fiance Kerry then took over from Viv and Carol and have introduced an array of new and exciting activities and adventures, however ultimately with the same end goal in mind – but with a refreshed and renewed outlook on how to achieve the end goal of education through interaction.
The core of everything we do at Wildthingz comes from a love of, and deep respect for, all animals and our natural world. Wildthingz Lodge, its owners, and employees do not condone or support in any way, the act of caged lion hunting. In fact, all three of our adult lionesses are spayed and cannot breed. Furthermore, our lions are not bred for resale and in the case where one of our cubs or lions are relocated for any reason, we have stringent due-diligence procedures in place to ensure that they are going somewhere suitable where they will be treated in a humane and just way.
But our procedures don’t stop there, we also ensure that follow-ups are conducted to ratify our commitment to the welfare and wellbeing of our lions. In addition to this, we have a zero-tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of any animal, whether within the conservancy or beyond.
We are here to share our love of animals and passion for conservation. All our activities and attractions are aimed at educating people through interaction with our wildlife and its habitat. Our goal is for every visitor to WIldthingz to:
If we are to ensure that our future generations can have the same fortunate experiences and interactions, then the future of conservation and the preservation of our natural habitat lies in our hands.